After a long mountain bike career, Australian Chris Jongewaard turned to cyclocross to keep feeding his desire to race competitively. Heading into this year’s Australian Cyclocross Nationals, Jongewaard had won two of the three Nationals events he raced, with his only second-place finish coming in 2015 after getting tangled up with another rider. On Saturday, August 5, Jongewaard won his third Australian Nationals at Zombie Park and then repeated a day later in the NCXS mudfest documented by Jeff Curtes.
I spoke with Jongewaard about his victory, his late career switch to cyclocross and just where the nickname “JBlood” came from.
Interview: Chris “JBlood” Jongewaard, Australian National Champion
Cyclocross Magazine: How did your third cyclocross national title compare to the first two?
Chris Jongewaard: It feels very nice to have won the title for the third time. The first two were actually really challenging and I had to work super hard on those days to come away with the win. This third title was a dream, everything in the week leading up to the race went like clockwork. The final training sessions were perfect and my mind was sharp and ready to race. I haven’t had the best season due to sickness, which has given me a rocky year in terms of the National Series, but I have again loved the cyclocross scene and enjoyed every aspect of it this year.
CXM: Was the race on Sunday as epic as the pictures made it look?
CJ: Sunday had some crazy conditions similar to what you’d find in Europe. The track actually disappeared in some sections and the parklands filled up with water. The Elite Women’s race, however, actually had the more severe weather conditions with strong winds and hail added to the mix. I had another good day myself on the Sunday with perfect tires selection and my Flanders Forte was on rails.
CXM: How would you describe the cyclocross scene in Australia?
CJ: I would say Melbourne is certainly leading the way with the guys from the Fields of Joy cyclocross park really lifting the sport here in Australia. They have a C2 event on the calendar this year too, which can only mean we are stepping things up in Australia and no doubt it is only a matter of time before we see a World Cup.
The ’cross scene here is very inclusive and family friendly. It’s just a great sport which seems to attract more and more participants and spectators each year.
CXM: You recently started racing cyclocross, yeah? Why did you decide to start racing ’cross?
CJ: I started racing ’cross in 2014 after a long career in mountain biking. After hanging up the mountain bike in 2013 and commencing a full-time building job, I was looking for a fun and competitive sport which wouldn’t eat into my already limited time. I wanted to keep up a decent level of fitness and be competitive.
Unfortunately for my wife and job it actually got the better of me and I found myself again pushing myself and my sport to the limits. If you check out the #crosswife note on the JBLOOD ADVENTURES Facebook page you’ll see what I mean.
I find racing very addictive and my desire to be the best seems to get the better of me.
“The ’cross scene here is very inclusive and family friendly. It’s just a great sport which seems to attract more and more participants and spectators each year.”
CXM: I am intrigued by the JBlood nickname, how did you get a nickname like that?
CJ: Where do I start? Probably initially it was a play on my surname Jongewaard. Then it became Jungleblood and finally JBlood, which ended up sticking. A sponsor that helped me out many years ago saw me racing and told me I had jungle blood because I raced so aggressively.
CXM: What was your European cyclocross experience like? How was Europe in the winter?
CJ: Wow, there is a huge difference between the Euro summer, which I was more used to having ridden on the Euro mountain bike scene for ten years, but I did enjoy the European ’cross experience a lot. I probably regret not doing a longer stint to really make my way closer to the front of the field, which is ultimately a long-term goal of every bike rider.
CXM: So it looks like you are involved with some coaching with JBLOOD ADVENTURES? Is that what that is?
CJ: JBLOOD ADVENTURES is my coaching business where I set training programs for my clients. I look after beginners right through to elite in road, mountain and ‘cross and I am currently hoping to expand my coaching program to include more riders.
CXM: You’ve been pretty dominant in the Australian ’cross scene the last few years, any plans to do more international racing soon?
CJ: At this moment I have plans to race some events in Japan later in the year, but beyond that, I have no commitments to race abroad. My focus will instead be placed on my business and developing my riders.
Australian ’cross fans can look for JBLOOD next weekend at the two UCI C2 races at Fields of Joy cyclocross park in Essendon Fields, Victoria on August 26 and 27. Also, check out our interview with the Women’s national champion Peta Mullens.